FOIA Lawsuits Hit Record High in 2015

/ AP
• January 6, 2016 4:19 pm


The amount of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought forth against the government has soared under President Obama, hitting a record high in 2015.

According to a new study released Tuesday by the FOIA Project, a research organization based at the University of Syracuse, a total of 498 FOIA lawsuits were filed in 2015–an increase from the previous record high of 421 lawsuits in 2014. Throughout Obama’s presidency to date, a total of 2,609 lawsuits have been filed seeking suppressed, redacted, or withheld information from the government.

During George W. Bush’s tenure, by comparison, a total of 2,390 FOIA lawsuits were brought forth with the highest year seeing 304 lawsuits. Between 2001 and 2008, more than 300 lawsuits were filed just twice, while the Obama administration has only had one year with less than 300 lawsuits.

The FOIA Project writes:

The annual number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cases filed in federal court has reached an all time high of 498 in FY 2015, according a 15-year analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

For a more recent time period, the data show that the 919 FOIA cases filed during the last two years (FY 2014 and 2015) represent a 54 percent increase over the 595 such matters filed during FY 2009 and 2010, the first two years of the Obama Administration.

The 919 FOIA cases filed in the period FY 2014 – 2015 also far outnumber those filed during the last two years of the previous Bush administration. There were only 562 such matters filed during FY 2007 – 2008, yielding a 64 percent increase for the most recent period…

The administration’s record has been a contentious matter ever since President Obama’s first days in office, when both he and Attorney General Eric Holder made sweeping claims about the ambitious FOIA policies they would follow in the years ahead. In a short memorandum to the heads of all Executive Branch departments and agencies, the president said the Freedom of Information Act "should be administered with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails."